”It was a big revelation for me: leadership is not about leading people, it’s about leading yourself first.”

Architect Basma Uraiqat from Jordan has recently spent a week in Stockholm to participate in the leadership programme She Entrepreneurs. As CEO at Uraiqat Architects, she is currently working on establishing a new entity that develops and supplies pre-fabricated budget houses for the Jordanian villages to provide well constructed and sustainable housing solutions for affordable prices.

What are your recommendations to anyone thinking of applying to She Entrepreneurs?
It’s a very good and rich programme and you need to make the best of it because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Make sure it is aligned with what you’re doing and that your business fits in with the programme. And you should be in a point in your work where this is what you need. If you are in an extremely early stage, this will probably not be very suitable.

What are your take aways from She Entrepreneurs? Can you share 2 examples?
First: In order for me to become a good leader, I have to understand myself and lead myself. And that was a big revelation for me: leadership is not about leading people, it’s about leading yourself first. And leading people will then almost just become a result of that. Second: the importance of impact. I mean a core impact, not only on the surface but an impact that makes a change. That can only happen by partnerships and collaboration and expanding your network. This has changed my perception totally. I used to think that impact meant that I have to focus more on myself and my company, whereas now I understand that I have to focus more on the people and the partners around me.

How will your business contribute to sustainable development?
I’m working on energy, sufficiency and sustainable cities, on developing products that will provide a sustainable home security for a large number of people. I’m doing that through a model that works for people and through using existing resources and maximising a potential on the ground rather than taking more of an imposing approach on the market.

What are the greatest challenges for you as a female entreprenuer in Jordan?
As an entrepreneur in general in my region, the financial resources are quite limited and the political instability affects us a lot. When we talk about planning for the future, investment, using resources and developing new products and new solutions, will become major obstacles and overcoming them is quite a challenge for any entrepreneur. As a female you’re under additional pressure of society of work life balance and obligations towards yourselves and others around you. And that adds more dimensions to the conflict and more things to juggle.

Having had a mentor during She Entrepreneurs, what has it meant to you?
This is the first time I have had a mentor in an official manner. It’s meant a lot! Having a one on one conversation with a senior experienced person is priceless. It’s about the conversation and about the sharing of ideas. And it’s about what comes out of an interaction like that when you are used to interact with peers and clients or customers and everybody has an interest for themselves more than for you. Having a mentor is a pure experience of somebody actually being invested in you and wanting to put you first, helping you in reaching your goals and clarifying your ideas and your path. That was very valuable for me.

How have you benefited from the She Entrepreneurs network?
This is an extremely important network. The women are absolutely fantastic. Although we come from very different industries and backgrounds, I found the exchange of knowledge priceless. Each one of us has challenges and victories. Sharing those completes a perspective that is missing when you’re alone or when you work only with people that are like you. That enhances the perception of where you are in your business and in society in general.

If you had to choose one thing that you liked about the She Entrepreneurs, what would that be?
Meeting and spending time with the trainers, they are very high profiles, people I probably never would have come across on my own. It was great getting such valuable knowledge from each one of them and having the sessions where they give us a tiny bit of their experience.

Where do you see yourself and your business in the future – what’s your goal?
My goal is to get my venture up and running in a very near future. I’m going to use all of the knowledge that I have gained here to develop my business model in a much more impactful way. I see the business in the coming year operating fully with a very comprehensive agenda in terms of business, social impact and sustainability.

When you get back home, is there anything you will approach differently because of what you learned at She Entrepreneurs?
Yes, almost everything! I don’t see anything in the same way. One thing that will have a direct impact on what I do is the importance of partnerships and the need to focus on strategic partnerships. The business model I’m working on is built on partnerships and being here and listening to the knowledge and understanding the knowledge that we have been given makes me realize how much work I have to do on partnerships.

Read more about She Entrepreneurs here.